The French Competition Authority has found Google circumvented the law in attempting to force press publishers to allow content to be posted for free on its platform. Interim measures have been ordered against Google LLC, Google Ireland Limited and Google France entities, as Google’s practices were found likely to cause serious and immediate harm to the press sector.
The French Competition Authority requires Google to conduct negotiations in good faith with publishers and news agencies, within three months, on the remuneration for the re-use of their protected content. Tightly controlled by the Authority, this negotiation must retroactively cover the fees due from the date the law came into force on 24th October 2019.
On 19th November 2019, several press publishers (Syndicat des éditeurs de la presse magazine, Alliance de la presse d’information générale (APIG) and Agence France-Presse) filed a complaint before the French Competition Authority against Google regarding an abuse of dominance and of economic dependency. Under the new French copyright directive, online platforms, such as Google, are now required by law to remunerate publishers for displaying their content online. Google announced that articles, pictures, and videos will only appear in its search results if publishers consent to waiving the fee. Alternatively, Google will display only limited content, including a bare headline and link, resulting in a loss of visibility and advertising revenue for the publisher.
Latham & Watkins represented APIG press publishers with a team led by Paris partners Jacques-Philippe Gunther and Adrien Giraud, with Brussels associate Jean-Baptiste Douchy and Paris associate Juliette Raffaitin.